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Alcoholism And The Elderly Don't Make For A Good Combination

Alcoholism and the elderly are often linked to brittle bones, fractures and osteoporosis. Both the alcohol and age work to erode bone health.

Adequate intake and absorption of calcium and vitamin D are essential for healthy bones.

But getting enough essential vitamins and minerals can be difficult as we age and be further compromised by the excessive consumption of alcohol.

Research shows that a glass of dry red wine daily may be beneficial to bone health... but there is a great deal of evidence that more than this can harm bone density.

Calcium Supplements And The Elderly

The physical effects of alcoholism can include the following:

  • Alcohol elevates our Parathyroid hormone (PTH levels) causing a strain on our calcium reserves. Continuous elevation of PTH can cause hyperparathyroidism which further depletes the calcium stored in our bones.
  • Alcohol can affect the conversion of vitamin D into its active form, thus interfering with the absorption of calcium from the intestines.
  • Excessive alcohol also increases magnesium excretion in the urine, which in turn makes calcium absorption difficult and this alone is enough to cause accelerated bone-breakdown.

Vitamin D Deficiency Among The Elderly

Vitamin D is essential for bone health and can increase calcium absorption by as much as 70%. But Vitamin D deficiency is common among people who are elderly, institutionalized or hospitalized.

In the United States, 60% of nursing home residents and 57% of hospitalized patients have been found to be vitamin D deficient.

Most experts believe that the recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin D is inadequate and that the vitamin D dosage for people in northern regions (north of Boston, Rome and Beijing) should be increased to 5,000 IU daily.